2  FM quick reads on health care facilities

1. Health Care Facilities Face Two Challenges From Competition

Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Health care facilities face two key challenges from competition.

As little as 10 years ago, the idea was that a hospital presided over its geographic area like a shepherd over its local flock. Today, the move to outpatient services opens up the geographic playing field to nearby competitors who can fairly easily open ambulatory sites in a hospital's historic market. The move towards ambulatory services also gives other factors, like aesthetics, greater weight. "You have many more patients showing up at your front door who aren't deathly sick and just want you to make them better," says Brian Crimmins, vice president, facilities planning and development at Crozer-Keystone Health System in Pennsylvania. "They're coming in and they're leaving. And they want it to be a pleasant experience." Crozer-Keystone is the dominant health care provider in Delaware County, just to the west of Philadelphia.

This all comes together to give potential patients — or health care consumers, as they're increasingly being thought of — what they want: choice, convenience and a competitive market that is hustling for their business. This gives health systems a major challenge, as they now have to constantly struggle to maintain market share.

At Crozer-Keystone, there's a two-pronged approach from the facilities side aimed at capturing that market share. The first is increasing the number of private rooms. As the care model has shifted to outpatient care, fewer in-patient beds are needed to serve the population in hospitals. While that at first seems like a bad trend, there is actually a silver lining: It allows Crimmins' team to retrofit the hospitals towards a goal of all private rooms. From the facilities perspective, the square footage isn't changing, so there is no efficiency gained, Crimmins says, but it improves patient satisfaction, creates lower densities on the unit and is helpful for infection control.

The other avenue of attack — setting up the ambulatory sites — is where the bigger challenge lies for Crimmins' team. The thrust has been to take the services that would have been borne out in the hospitals and put them out into the community in medical office buildings and, in some instances, in business occupancy buildings, Crimmins says.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

Four Ways That Facility Managers Can Get Corporate Information

Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Get plugged into corporate information networks.

Top executives often don't involve facility managers early in the planning process. And so equipment is delivered but there aren't enough outlets or the right kind of power. Or the equipment simply won't fit in the door. Or a special project requires a company to bring in temporary workers but no one thinks about where they are going to sit. Or no one budgets for installation of costly hardware, even though installation will cost a substantial amount of money. The only way to avoid situations like those is to get good information. Here are four ways that can happen.

1. In the best cases, the facility manager's boss is in a position to supply information about coming changes that will affect facilities. That way, the facility manager can get direct or nearly direct information about plans that will affect facilities. But facility managers may have to educate their superiors to persuade them to share information.

2. A facility manager doesn't have to depend on a formal reporting relationship to stay in the loop. A department head can be a pipeline. Over the years, one hospital facility manager has been successful in forging a good relationship with the head of surgery, who has a considerable amount of clout in the organization. Now, the head of surgery won't make a move to upgrade anything without telling the facility manager.

3. The hardest part of getting good information from other departments may be establishing an initial connection. A good way to do that is to demonstrate that the facility manager can reduce costs that land in a business unit's budget. Once a facility manager has built up a relationship, it's easier to ask for information.

4. Facility managers should build on success. Facility managers who gain access to timely information have more chances to demonstrate that they can add value. Capitalizing on those opportunities makes it easier to get in on the informal channels of communication in a large organization.


health care facilities , strategic planning

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